This month Dr. Ken Conca will join the SESYNC team as a fellow on sabbatical from his home institution, American University’s School of International Service, where he is a professor of International Relations. He will spend much of his time on an independent sabbatical project that investigates climate change, water, and the social construction of risk.
Ken has written extensively on topics related to environment, peace, security, conflict and global governance. He is a member of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Expert Advisory Group on Conflict and Peacebuilding.
His SESYNC project examines how international water management experts incorporate climate risks into their decision-making. He is particularly interested in professional networks working on ‘climate-resilient’ infrastructure, specifically: large dam project planning/financing; urban water management; and rural water aid programs in developing countries.
Given the many forms of expertise involved in water management, and the many forms of risk management occurring in the water sector, finding common ground on climate/water risks is a significant challenge. The project seeks to understand how different communities of water experts (in finance, technology, management, science, policy) are defining and acting on climate-driven, water-related risks (scarcity, extremes, disaster, insecurity). The project aims to facilitate dialogue on how to manage uncertainty in climate resilience and adaptation efforts.
Ken spent the fall semester at the Wilson Center working mostly on the background literature and the conceptual framework for the project, and he is planning to dig into some of the empirical work this spring.
Ken is a two-time recipient of the International Studies Association’s Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for best book on international environmental affairs, and a recipient of the Chadwick Alger Prize for best book in the field of International Organization. He earned his PhD from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.
On March 14th, Ken will be giving a seminar at SESYNC titled, "Climate change, water, and the social construction of risk.”